Silver Chips Online

Swim and dive places second at divisionals

Blair boys place first, girls place fourth in Division II championship

By Blake Morgan-Gamber, Online Features and Sports Editor
February 17, 2010
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. SWIM CENTER, FEB. 13

This story was based on post-game interviews only and not on a first-hand account.

Blair's swim and dive team (4-1) secured a second place spot at the divisionals championship on Saturday by conquering the Northwest Jaguars, Poolseville Falcons, Quince Orchard Cougars and Blake Bengals. The team lost only to the Sherwood Warriors. The boys placed first with an overall score of 399.5 points and the girls placed fourth with an overall score of 329 points.

Blair fell short in the diving competition. Freshman Patrick Washington placed 11th with a final score of 114 and junior Claire Hoffman placed sixth with a final score of 163.20.

Junior captain Laura McGehee explained it was important for the Blair swimmers to be competitive in this competition because the team's success, along with their regular season record, determines the division in which the Blazers will compete next winter. "Divisionals are pretty important for determining where we're going to be next year," she said.

Due to snow, the Blazers were unable to practice in the days leading up to divisionals. Both McGehee and coach David Swaney felt the inability to get into the pool negatively affected Blair's performance in the meet. "It was kind of a rough meet," McGehee said. Swaney agreed. "A lot of people were sluggish from the week off," he said.

Although they did not place first in any individual events, the boys' proudest accomplishment was defeating Sherwood in the overall standings. In the boys' 200-yard Medley Relay, senior captain Jeff Lin, junior captain Eric Ruggieri, junior Winston Liu and sophomore Niklas Hammond finished second with a time of 1:41.69, missing the Warriors by 2.58 seconds. Swaney commended the boys for defeating the strong Warriors team. "It was fun for the boys to beat Sherwood," he said.

Saturday was another great day in the pool for Lin, who broke two Blair records. The senior captain placed second the 200-yard Individual Medley with a time of 1:58.34 and third in the 100-yard Butterfly with a time of 53.50 seconds. Both McGehee and Swaney praised Lin for his hard work. "He's just a beast," McGehee said. "He will fry anybody." McGehee further noted that Lin responded well to the tough competition that Sherwood posed. "He had very good competition and I'm sure that helped him to swim really fast," she said.

Placing fourth overall, the girls were most competitive in the relay competitions. McGehee, as well as fellow captain senior Jenna Williams and freshmen Emily Lathrop and Jennifer Arai, broke the Blair 400-yard Freestyle Relay record with a time of 3:54.43. Lathrop and Williams, as well as senior Molly Branson and sophomore Elsa Dupre, also placed fourth in the 200-yard Medley Relay with a final time of 1:57.87. Despite their tough competition, Swaney believed the girls swam well. "The girls were solid, but Division II girls are tough," he said.

In the girls' 100-yard Breaststroke, Branson just missed breaking Blair's record. The senior finished the race with a final time of 1:10.62, missing the record by 0.2 seconds.

Senior captain Nate Hukill and Ruggieri both finished in close races. Ruggieri barely missed first place in the 100-yard Breaststroke by tailing only 0.92 seconds behind the Sherwood winner. Hukill just missed second place in the 50-yard Freestyle by 0.14 seconds.

Coming off an exciting performance at divisionals, the Blazers are now preparing for the County Championship. For this competition, Blair will send its top two swimmers from each event to swim against the top swimmers from the other divisions in Montgomery County. McGehee explained that the Blair team will not have anymore team practices before this event and that most of the Blair swimmers will practice with their respective Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club (RMSC) teams to get ready for the big meet. "And with all the snow, we'll have to be getting back into shape at the same time," she said.

With a lot of preparation, McGehee believes Blair can be competitive in the County Championship, as well as in the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships later this month. "We're going to try to do a lot better," she said.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/9873